It begins: First Obamacare security breach leaks 2,400 Americans’ info

posted at 10:01 pm on October 1, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Beyond the glitches.

An employee of Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange, MNsure, sent an unencrypted file to the wrong person and left 2,400 people’s private information at the mercy of a nearby insurance agent.

One exchange staffer’s simple mistake gave insurance broker Jim Koester access to an Excel document of Social Security numbers, names, addresses and other personal data for whole a list of insurance agents. Luckily for the 2,400, Koester was cooperative — and unnerved.

“The more I thought about it, the more troubled I was,” Koester told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “What if this had fallen into the wrong hands? It’s scary. If this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident their data is safe?”

We’ve written about the possibility of fraud, but as with all government endeavors, incompetence and carelessness are at least equal threats. I’ll be damned if I’d put my Social Security number into one of these untested databases today, so it can be handed off to a random navigator without a background check, printed off and left in a public library printer tray, or leaked to a local insurance agent. This is dangerous stuff, and it will happen over and over again.

I tried my hand at the Maryland Healthcare Connection today, and after three hours of waiting, could not load more than one screen in the process. I tried Maryland’s site in an attempt to be charitable to Obamacare and offset my own bias somewhat. Maryland has been proactive about exchange development, started on Day One after the law passed, is a small state with a frightening ratio of health care bureaucrats to citizens, and should have been one of the most prepared states to launch an exchange. The exchange’s opening was pushed from midnight to 8 a.m. to noon, at which point they put up this considerate message:

That’s sort of the pitch from Congressional Republicans. We want to make Obamacare as pleasant an experience for the American people as possible by giving them the option to not experience it at all.

Many Obamacare supporters emphasized that the “giltches” in exchanges today are no biggie. They’ll be ironed out quickly, they’re a “great problem to have,” they’re only happening because so very many people want to sign up. Debatable. As I’ve written before, those who crafted the bill had no concept of how complicated what they were proposing would be to build. Today, Jay Carney revealed the depth of that ignorance when he answered questions about system, database, and server capacity problems with Obamacare today by saying, “I’m not an expert in web design.” Federal regulators, at the behest of Obama administration officials, delayed filling in the blanks left by ignorant lawmakers, further slowing the preparation process. Maryland, which was anxious to do all it could, was often running ahead of the feds, waiting for vital pieces of regulatory information. The Obama administration did this because revealing the true effects of this unpopular law before Obama won reelection would have made it harder for Obama to win reelection. They had years to get these sites ready, so anyone who tells you we’re judging them too harshly one day in is about three and a half years off. The attempt to blame Republicans for alleged “sabotage” is undermined by the fact that thoroughly blue states like Maryland and Oregon and New York, which had drunk gallons of Obamacare Kool-Aid (and maybe a little something extra) are among the IT meltdowns today.

Another point Obamacare supporters are ignoring: the ease with which Obamacare tech allows people to sign up is of outsized importance in attracting a particular group— young invincibles, the one group most necessary to making Obamacare work. They’re young, healthy, and insurance is not a priority for them. They’re the reason for the mandate. Health insurance costs a lot, the penalty for not having it is rather small (and getting smaller thanks to the fact that Obamacare prevents them from being turned away when sick), and their costs are going up under Obamacare to subsidize the plans of older, richer, sicker Americans. Young people have very little incentive to sign up, which is why you see the feds enlisting even the likes of *NSYNC to convince them to take the leap in a horrible hybrid of a 90s-nostalgia Buzzfeed post and government propaganda.

Do you see these young people waiting more than 3 seconds for each page of the Maryland exchange to load, much less the 20-40 minutes it seemed to be taking on its best behavior today? If you really want them signing up, make it a three-step process from a smartphone, not a three-hour process from a laptop, coupled with a lengthy customer service call. The Obama team knows all this when it comes to getting elected; not so much when implementing his signature legislation. Not all of those who might sign up tried today and were deterred, but some surely were, and the system as envisioned can’t survive a lot of attrition in this demographic. And, how many young people heard about the problems and will put off signing up until they forget? Today was the day Jennifer Hudson et al. were pitching, and today was a bust.

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That didn’t take long.

Stoic Patriot on October 2, 2013 at 6:09 AM

I can hear the whirring machinations of a rube Goldberg contraption as it grinds to a standstill with smoke billowing out of its gear box stinking up the clueless ambiance of another liberal pipe dreams.

SparkPlug on October 1, 2013 at 10:21 PM


CurtZHP on October 2, 2013 at 6:15 AM

CurtZHP on October 2, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Meep, meep – goes the Obamunist.
Catch him if you can……

FlaMurph on October 2, 2013 at 7:02 AM

The security problems are not going away. There’s too much data, and there are too many places to get access to it.

Chris of Rights on October 2, 2013 at 7:21 AM

These are not ‘bugs’ they are ‘features’.

This roll out hasn’t had proper beta testing… which, for something this complex, should take months to do, and yet the code has only had a year to be developed to alpha, then beta tested, bugs fixed, retested against the old bugs, new bugs cataloged as to severity, then ranking those that are critical and fixing those post-haste and retesting those fixes and making sure that something previously fixed isn’t re-broken. Beta test is usually done in cycles and I’ve been in beta tests for MMPORGs that have lasted over a year JUST in beta. At final roll-out large sections of the stuff in beta test were deactivated or cut-off as pathways in the code. Today you can find multiple MMPORG systems where there are fans who find ways into the old code to see what is there.

And that is for games with separate accounting systems outside of the game environment with very few links into it. The data standards for Obamacare have still not been properly defined, tested and rolled out.

This is just the start as you can bet that the people who started designing this stuff are not the ones who are now trying to fix it. And as the secure information is to reside within reach of the actual ‘exchange’ system, it better have bank level security to it which is, apparently, not the case.

Yes these are technical glitches.

And anyone on the outside now knows that the beta test is happening with LIVE CODE.

Good luck on that one.

Having so much information available to the government is just but ONE of the many problems with Obamacare. The government’s lax attitude towards protecting it is just ANOTHER problem with Obamacare. The problem is Obamacare and its effects on the economy and your personal life span, pocket book and reduced liberty. The cost of medical care only started to skyrocket after it was subsidized… and then government tried to ‘help’ by increasing taxes and paying a few dimes on the dollar for the ‘poor and elderly’ cost shifting to regular payers the rest via medical practices.

Using insurance for health care has the equivalent of having car insurance that pays for regular maintenance, pays for towing services, pays for a new car if the old one is wrecked and subsidizes the gas you put in the tank… plus pays for that fancy under vehicle lighting system, new paint jobs annually, and a complete annual detailing.

And people wonder WHY the cost of health care has skyrocketed…

ajacksonian on October 2, 2013 at 7:36 AM

Obamacare navigators: ACORN v. 2.0

petefrt on October 2, 2013 at 5:52 AM

…that’s where they went!

KOOLAID2 on October 2, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Anyone really think these Liberal @$$-Clowns were going to be able to keep your personal information safe?

1st you have to RESPECT Privacy in order to really care about protecting it. 1st Eric Holder, US Attorney General, was busted AGAIN for a Felony Count of Perjury before Congress when he told Congress he knew nothing about the spying on editors, reporters, and their families, only to have to come back before Congress later and admit HE was the one who approved it then went Judge Shopping to get some Liberal Judge to approve it. The exposing of the NSA was next. The head of the NSA admitted on CSPAN before Congress that they have labeled every person in the US a ‘threat to the US’ in order to Justify a ‘Blanket’ warrant to spy on all Americans…and THEN admitted the NSA BREAKS THE LAW THOUSANDS OF TIMES A YEAR illegally spying on Americans.

Throw in the fact that this administration loves to leak classified info to the public when they think it makes Obama look good and Joe Biden walking around the White House, having pictures taken, with “CLASSIFIED” Folders in his hands….

And you have a 1st Class ‘Disaster’ written all over the place!

Once again, extremely Nation-DAMAGING Obama Incompetence is on FULL DISPLAY: Day 2 of the ‘Implementation of Obamacare’ & already we have the On-Line Obamacare Exchanges crashing / failing on a massive scale….the Obama bottom-kissing media attempted to sell the ease of signing up on the air yesterday only to ‘crash & burn’ on live TV over and over again….and now – again, Day 2 – 2,400 Americans’ Personal Information have already been handed over to hackers.

‘Obamacare’ IS Obama: ‘Amateurish’, a bad idea, not well thought out, incompetent, does not work, never should have been, should be booted due to being a disasterous, nation-damaging ‘tool’!

easyt65 on October 2, 2013 at 8:05 AM

And crazy eyes Dayton is out there flaunting MNCARE as if it were the Second Coming….it ain’t….

crosshugger on October 2, 2013 at 8:25 AM

I can hear the whirring machinations of a rube Goldberg contraption as it grinds to a standstill with smoke billowing out of its gear box stinking up the clueless ambiance of another liberal pipe dreams.

SparkPlug on October 1, 2013 at 10:21 PM


CurtZHP on October 2, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Any company that’s endorsed by Warner Bros can’t be all bad.

listens2glenn on October 2, 2013 at 8:51 AM

The good news is, the front-end designers are apparently not furloughed, and hard at work for the American people.

I have given the website a few test pokes, and in three attempts over the last 24 hours, I have been directed to three different screens telling me to hold my horses.

The Schaef on October 2, 2013 at 9:04 AM

“What if this had fallen into the wrong hands?

It did, that’s how you wound up with it. Luckily, your hands aren’t nefarious.

rukiddingme on October 2, 2013 at 9:53 AM

So then wouldn’t the states and the feds be in violation of laws such as HIPAA? Will they prosecute themselves?

steveracer on October 2, 2013 at 10:03 AM

So then wouldn’t the states and the feds be in violation of laws such as HIPAA? Will they prosecute themselves?

steveracer on October 2, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Just as with the TSA and sexual assault, it’s not illegal when the government does it to you.

slickwillie2001 on October 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Didn’t this happen like 2 weeks ago?

Now that it’s live, the REAL fun can begin.

Oxymoron on October 2, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Meanwhile NO one talks about how ‘cool’ obama’care’ is, just about all the glitches, price hikes, doctor problems and etc.

No one misses the goons from the gov’t.

Yes, America is exceptional.

Schadenfreude on October 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM